WASHINGTON – Rashad Sabree, 37, of Boston, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty today in federal court in District of Maine to two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank of the District of Maine, Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Boston Division, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Boston.
According to court documents, the defendant coerced two young women to engage in commercial sex acts in Maine between December 2015 and Jan. 5, 2016, by exploiting their heroin addictions, verbally abusing them, and threatening them with violence. The defendant controlled the victims by supplying them with just enough heroin to avoid opiate withdrawal, which involves severe pain and physical sickness, and then threatening to cut off their supply and cause them to suffer withdrawal if they refused to engage in commercial sex. On Jan. 5, 2016, a motorist called 911 after observing the defendant striking one of the victims while driving on I-95 towards Massachusetts, resulting in the defendant’s arrest.
“This defendant committed sex trafficking by exploiting the opioid addictions of these women, using their vulnerability to coerce them into commercial sex for his gain,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Department of Justice will continue to work tirelessly to seek justice on behalf of victims and survivors of human trafficking.”
“This case demonstrates the important role that the public can play in helping to protect those who are vulnerable,” said U.S. Attorney Frank. “We encourage the public to say something if they see something. Here, thankfully, a good citizen did just that.”
“This defendant preyed on the addictions of his victims and brutally exploited them in a scheme driven by cruelty and greed,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Boston Division. “With today’s plea, Sabree is accepting responsibility for his crimes, while his victims continue to recover from the abuse suffered at his hands. This case demonstrates the FBI’s unwavering commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to hold sex traffickers like him accountable.”
“Homeland Security Investigations is proud to have assisted in this investigation, a case which clearly exposes the false claim that commercial sex trafficking is a so-called “victimless crime,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s HSI Boston. “Close law enforcement coordination in this case has allowed justice to be done to the perpetrators of these vicious crimes and to, hopefully, provide some measure of compensation for the victims.”
In accordance with the plea agreement, the defendant faces a sentence of 15 to 17 years in prison. He is further subject to a maximum fine of $250,000 and mandatory restitution to the victims. Sentencing will be scheduled on a later date after the U.S. Probation Office completes its presentence investigation report.
The District of Maine is one of six districts designated through a competitive, nationwide selection process as a Phase II Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam), through the interagency ACTeam Initiative of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor. ACTeams focus on developing high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking and sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion through interagency collaboration among federal prosecutors and federal investigative agencies.
The case was investigated by the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s HSI Boston, and the Biddeford Police Department, with assistance from the Maine State Police and the Sanford, Kittery, and Portland Police Departments. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Lipez and Trial Attorney William E. Nolan of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.